This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
The sanitary emergency that the Argentine government declared in late 2019 and reinforced in March of 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic was extended until December 31, 2021. Under this order, Argentina implemented new restrictions to contain the spread of the second wave of Covid-19, including different phases of lockdown.
Since 2020, the Argentine government has increased public spending to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and resorted to international financing to keep healthcare services for the public sector adequate and provide financial aid to the most vulnerable sectors of society. Most of the healthcare public expenditure in 2021 has been focused on vaccine purchases in order to accelerate the vaccination campaign. Purchases also included antigen tests for rapid detection of COVID-19 to advance case detection.
The government reclassified goods needed to combat the health emergency previously subject to non-automatic import licenses to automatic import licenses. Approximately, 1,500 tariff lines are currently subject to non-automatic licenses.
While imports of some specific supplies related to COVID-19 are expected to continue to increase during the remainder of 2021, particularly in peso terms, the overall medical devices market decreased in 2020, in dollar terms. Industry contacts report a reduction of non-COVID-related medical equipment/product sales of 30-60 percent during 2020. Imports from the United States were estimated at US$130 million, out of an overall import market of US$489 million in 2018. Post-pandemic projections indicate a recovery of imports at moderate levels in 2022.
Notwithstanding this, the Argentine medical equipment and device market is dominated by imports, which account for around 70-85 percent of the total market. The United States is traditionally the leading supplier of imported medical products, particularly high-end technology, with an approximate 20-25 percent market share.
During the pandemic in 2020-2021, when exports of some critical medical supplies were restricted by U.S. regulations, Argentina imported many medical products from Asia and Europe. Argentina initially received large quantities of medical supplies from the People’s Republic of China, including test kits, personal protective equipment, masks, gloves, and digital thermometers. The U.S. government donated 3.5 million doses of highly needed vaccines in July 2021.
At the outset of the pandemic in 2020, most expenditures have been focused on improving hospital infrastructure, including construction of modular hospitals and lab infrastructure and increasing supplies of medical equipment, consumables, and diagnostic tests. In 2021, demand continues to be concentrated on COVID-19-related products, dominated by vaccine purchases. Demand is also steady for personal protection equipment, ventilators and oxygen respiratory equipment, consumables, and clinical laboratory products such as PCR diagnostic reagents and equipment.
Additional opportunities for U.S. exports continue to be e-health technologies and middle- to high-end technology products, such as electro-diagnostic equipment and other specialized medical equipment and devices that do not compete with locally manufactured ones. Purchases of large equipment with high prices may often be postponed. There may also be potential in the market for implants, stents, cardiac valves, pacemakers, specialized catheters and cannulas, and other specialized disposables.
Among these products, the largest exports from the United States in the past four years were in these HS Codes categories: 9018.90.99.190, 9018.90.99.990, and 9018.39.29.900.
The Argentine government and some international loans from multilateral development banks will continue to provide funding to support government programs particularly concentrated on primary care, maternal care, and healthcare infrastructure under a national universal healthcare coverage plan. This plan emphasizes efficiency, accessibility and modernization through e-health technologies.
Medical products and technology developed and produced in the United States are highly regarded in Argentina. This is particularly relevant for U.S. exporters that offer high quality products at competitive prices. In this competitive market, much of the demand for mass-market technologies is already being met.
However, due to scarcer budgets for both public and private sectors and the local market macroeconomic scenario, product export potential will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
All imports of medical products require prior registration, by an experienced medical equipment importer, with the Argentine food, drug, and medical equipment regulatory agency, ANMAT, the Argentine equivalent of the FDA.
ANMAT (National Administration of Medicine, Food, and Medical Technology)
For additional information on this industry, including market analysis, trade events, contacts, and the products and services that the U.S. Commercial Service can provide to help you succeed in the Argentine market, please contact Liliana Paz, Industry Specialist.